Friday, March 26, 2010

Virtual Choir

Here is the penultimate example of the power of Internet for collaboration and creation, and for pushing the boundaries on the possible. Eric Whitaker created a choral piece with 185 singers from 12 countries, each singing their part to musical accompaniment while he conducted, and then combining their video and audio. Amazing!

Here is the link to Eric Whitaker's blog where he explains how the recording was made. This is the potential we offer our children when we teach them how to use technology to explore their own interests, to connect with others, and to participate in the creation of new knowledge!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Coming soon: School and Home Library Web Site

I realize that my posts have been few and far between in recent weeks. Everyone is busy, yet I claim that as my excuse. Between home schooling, taking classes at the University of South Carolina, teaching a home school class on water rights using online technologies, and writing a book with my professor, I find that I have little time for anything else.

I spend most of my free time working on my School and Home Library web site. I am creating the web site to fulfill a graduation requirement for my Master's Degree in Library Science. It is supposed to be a school library web site; however, as I plan to make my career in home schooling, I have obtained permission to create a virtual library site for home schoolers. The site will be a portal to free, online tools and applications including reference, databases, search tools, digital libraries, curriculum materials, information literacy, and Web 2.0. I hope to have it up and running within a month. So, please, bear with me during the interim. I have not forgotten home schoolers, and I am constantly search for ideas and technology to expand our curricula and to benefit our children.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bookshare: Free Downloadable Books for Individuals with Print Impairments

Bookshare is a wonderful resource for individuals with "print impairments"-- loss of sight, visual impairment, dyslexia or other learning disabilities, developmental disabilities, or learners of English as a second language.

At Bookshare, you can download free books and periodicals, free software for assistive reading technology (i.e. screen readers), and Braille embossers. Bookshare offers more than 60,000 books, textbooks, teacher-recommended readings, newspapers, and periodicals. Books include best sellers, Newbery Award winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, and winners of the Hugo awards and Edgar Allen Poe awards.They also have over 1,000 Spanish language books.

Free memberships are available with documentation of disability and includes access to 100 books per month, downloads of Humanware's Victor Reader Soft Bookshare edition, Don Johnston's READ: Outloud Bookshare edition, other software and hardware options (like an Mp3 download), and BRF format for Braille embossers. People without reading difficulties may also obtain a membership for $75.

Visit the Don Johnston web site to learn about assistive technology for students with learning disabilities, including writing software for individuals with dysgraphia, and for individuals with Autism. (Please note that these products are not offered on the Bookshare website and are not free).